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Joakim Nordstrom has already experienced something special at the Saddledome.
Along his ascent to the NHL, the Calgary Flames’ latest signing was part of Sweden’s golden group at the 2012 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship.
“That was obviously one of my best moments as a hockey player, so I think I’ve always had a special bond with Calgary as a city,” Nordstrom said. “To come there in the NHL, the visiting locker-room is the same locker-room that we had during the tournament and in the final, so that’s always special walking in there. But I’m super excited now to put my foot in the home locker-room and put the Flames jersey on.”
Nordstrom, a defensive-minded left-winger and ace penalty-killer, will call Calgary home this coming season after signing a one-year deal with the Flames as an unrestricted free agent.
The 28-year-old will earn the NHL’s minimum wage — a salary-cap hit of US$700,000 — and should add some speed and grit to the fourth line and shorthanded staff.
Just don’t expect a ton of offence from the newest new guy. Nordstrom notched four goals and three assists in 48 outings for the Boston Bruins last winter. He has totalled 78 points in 446 career appearances at the highest level, a tally that includes both regular-season and playoff dates.
As Flames general manager Brad Treliving summed up after Monday’s announcement: “It’s not going to show up on the highlight reels, what he does. But the grunt work is really, really important too.”
“I had some really good talks with the coach (Geoff Ward) and GM in Calgary, what they thought of me as a player and where they saw me fitting in on the team, so that made the decision easy for me,” Nordstrom said Tuesday from his off-season home in Sweden. “And then also talking to Elias Lindholm, who is one of my best friends … He had only good things to say about the team and the organization ever since he became a Flame. So that helped, as well.
“My conversations with the coach and the GM were the biggest thing. But it’s also nice to have someone that you know and you can ask questions that you might have about things away from the rink and from hockey — maybe about the city or whatnot.
“And I really liked what I heard.”
This might sound like a familiar story.
Lindholm was Calgary’s leading marksman with 29 goals during the 2019-20 campaign, and the first-line right-winger is showing that same sort of finish as an off-season recruiter.
He is pals with Jacob Markstrom, the star puck-stopper who signed a six-year, US$36-million mega-deal with the Flames on the first day of free agency.
Now, he’ll be welcoming another buddy to the Saddledome. Lindholm and Nordstrom were teammates for three seasons in Carolina.
“It might be two years ago now, the three of us went on a golfing trip to Portugal and we went to Spain after that to watch Champions League soccer,” Nordstrom said of his relationship with Lindholm and Markstrom. “And then just a few months ago, it might have been in May or June, we went on a fishing trip — me, Jacob and Elias. I know both of them pretty well, so I’m excited that all three of us are teammates now. It’s kind of funny how things play out.”
That trio will be doing plenty of road-tripping — just with their hockey gear instead of their golf clubs or fishing tackle — once the NHL resumes for the upcoming season. Ideally, this next journey will lead all the way to 2021 Stanley Cup final.
Nordstrom had his name engraved on the historic trophy in 2015, although he dressed for only three games with the Chicago Blackhawks that spring — two in the opening round and the other in the Western Conference final.
He experienced heartbreak in 2019, with the Bruins losing to the St. Louis Blues in Game 7 of the championship showdown. Nordstrom contributed eight points during that run and was among Boston’s busiest penalty-killers.
Now, his quest for another title brings him to the Saddledome, a place where he has celebrated once before.
“When you get as close as we did two seasons ago, it’s almost like you can taste it but the someone pulls it away right in front you,” Nordstrom said. “That’s obviously made me even more hungry to get another crack at winning it. That’s something that I’ll take with me for the rest of my career — that hunger just to hoist it again.
“And I think being a part of the Calgary Flames is going to put me in a good spot. I think the Flames have a really good roster and a bright future.”
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020